Water is a miracle drink, isn’t it?
If there is just one thing we human beings can solely survive on for days, it is water. But, why am I talking about water?
Because the vegetable you are going to read about comprises mostly of this wonder liquid. And it comes replete with incredible nutrition as well. And … err… I am not going to tell you more.
Just read on and find out for yourself!
What Is Celery?
Scientifically known as Apium graveolens, celery has been cultivated as a vegetable since time immemorial. It belongs to the family Apiaceae, and has a long fibrous stalk that tapers into leaves.
Depending on the location of its cultivation, either its stalks or leaves are consumed. The vegetable is also used as a spice, and its extracts find use in medicines.
The plant grows over 18 to 24 inches tall, with the stalk of the plant majorly contributing to its height. The stalks of the plant have a crunchy texture and delicate flavor. The leaves of the plant are located at the top of the stalks – they are finely divided and are light or dark green in color. The roots of the plant just grow 2 to 3 inches deep into the soil, because of which adequate moisture and nutrients at the top few inches of the soil are particularly important while growing this plant. The plant produces flowers and seeds in its second year. The flowers contain tiny white petals, and the seeds, which are located within the flowers, are tan to dark brown and possess a strong, pleasant scent.
That’s a brief about the celery plant. But the question is – why should you know about it? Is it good for you?
Why Celery Is Healthy
Talk about versatility, and celery would top the list. Hands down. The US alone produces a billion pounds of this watery plant every year. A large part of Punjab, India, is exclusively used for celery seed production for export to Europe.
Now, coming to the point…
Celery is unbelievably low in calories. So much so that it is even called a negative-calorie food. It contains major vitamins and minerals, and even certain flavonoids that reduce inflammation and prevent heart disease.
Numerous studies have been conducted on celery, and the results are astounding. Addition of celery to a regular diet was found to decrease the risk of memory loss, breast cancer, and tumor, and even pancreatic cancer (1). Celery has also been found to promote digestive health.
All these benefits (and many more) can be attributed to the nutrients this magic-plant contains. Scroll down to check the nutritional profile of celery.
Celery – Nutritional Profile
Celery – Nutritional Profile
1 serving – 110 g
DV – daily value
AMOUNT PER SERVING
|total carbohydrates||3.8 g||1%|
|total fat||0.2 g||0%|
|vitamin A||494 IU||10%|
|vitamin C||3.4 mg||6%|
|vitamin E||0.3 mg||1%|
|vitamin K||32.2 mcg||40%|
|vitamin B6||0.1 mg||4%|
The health benefits of celery are more diverse. Keep reading!
Health Benefits Of Celery
1. Lowers Blood Pressure
There is nothing surprising about the fact that high blood pressure levels are one of the major reasons of lifestyle diseases. But with celery around the corner, one doesn’t have to worry much.
Celery has been to found to contain a phytochemical called phthalides, which relaxes artery walls and increases blood flow – thereby reducing blood pressure (2). One Iranian study had also attributed the antihypertensive properties of celery to the same phytochemical (3). The phytochemical also relaxes the smooth muscles around blood vessels (4).
Celery is also rich in nitrates, which have been found to lower blood pressure (5). According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, celery seed extracts can also lower blood pressure levels (6). In traditional Chinese medicine, celery is termed as a cool food that lowers blood pressure (7).
2. Lowers Cholesterol
One major reason celery can be a part of your low-cholesterol diet is its abundance of fiber and the less number of calories it contains (8). And the phtyochemical phthalide comes into the picture again – in one Chicago study, phthalides were found to reduce cholesterol levels by 7%. Similar findings were established in a Singapore study (9).
Celery has been found to reduce triglycerides and cholesterol levels, and at the same time increase the levels of HDL (the good cholesterol) – thereby treating hyperlipidemia as well.
3. Reduces Inflammation
Celery is replete with phytonutrient antioxidants that possess anti-inflammatory properties. The vegetable is also an important source of flavonols in Chinese adults (10). Celery juice or celery extracts also reduce the activity of certain proteins that are linked to inflammation (11).
Celery also contains a compound called luteolin that can prevent inflammation in the cells of lungs, prostate, gums, and the brain (12). Celery is also found to inhibit the growth of H. pylori, a bacteria that causes gastritis (or the inflammation of stomach lining) (13).
4. Aids Weight Loss
Celery is one of the few ideal foods you can consume for healthy weight loss. One, because it is low in calories. And two, it is high on fiber. Fiber also makes you feel full for longer after eating, which prevents you from binging – ultimately facilitating weight loss. Celery’s high water content could be another boon for people looking to lose weight – inadequate water intake causes dehydration, leaving you fatigued and demotivated to hit the gym and workout.
Celery also regulates lipid metabolism, and hence is a valuable option in weight loss diets (14). It can also be consumed with other vegetables that have a higher energy density – celery, being water-rich, lowers the energy density of the other ingredients and promotes weight loss (15).
5. Helps Prevent Cancer
Cancer has always been a deadly disease. But, its prevention lies in its nature itself, with celery possessing some of the best chemopreventive properties.
Celery contains polyacetylenes, compounds that prevent numerous cancer formations. The bioactive flavonoids celery contains (apigenin and luteolin) fight free radicals and kill any cancer cells in the body (16). The flavonoids in celery were also found to kill pancreatic cancer cells (17). Luteolin has also been found to prevent breast cancer (18).
Flavonoids in celery harbor chemopreventive properties, and therefore act as antioxidants. In one study, pre-treating cancer cells with apigenin and luteolin followed by the application of a chemotherapy drug proved to be the most effective in treating cancer (19). Numerous other studies have also attributed the ability to prevent cancer to luteolin (20).
6. Aids Digestion
The natural fibers in celery make it an important food for the digestive system. The soluble fiber in celery is fermented by the bacteria in the large intestine. This fermentation process produces short-chain fatty acids, one of which (butyrate) promotes gastrointestinal health.
Celery also contains insoluble fiber, which makes it easy for stool to pass.
7. Improves Sex Life
This vegetable, which tastes like crunchy water, can stir up your sex life. Each celery stalk contains androstenone and androstenol, which are basically odour molecules. These molecules travel through the back of your throat and to your nose, thereby boosting your arousal and emitting scents that can make you more desirable (21).
8. Might Help Treat Asthma
One of the more common conditions, asthma, can make one’s life hard and uncomfortable. But an asthma sufferer can find relief with celery. As per a report published by Purdue University, celery can effectively be used for treating asthma (24).
9. Can Help Treat Diabetes
By 2030, it is estimated that a whopping 439 million adults will suffer from diabetes. Yes, that number does put one at unease. But, you don’t have to be one among them, do you?
The antidiabetic properties of celery can be attributed to its vitamin K content. This vitamin reduces inflammation, thereby increasing insulin sensitivity and improving glucose metabolism. In one study, participants with the highest vitamin K intake had the lowest risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Additionally, diabetes can also be caused by H. pylori, the very same bacteria that can cause stomach issues. And, as already discussed, celery has the unique ability to hinder the growth of H. pylori.
In one Iranian study, celery seed extract was found to control diabetes in rats (25), indicating the possibility of a similar effect in humans.
10. Improves Cardiovascular Health
Celery is usually administered as an anti-hypertensive agent in traditional medicine, and helps maintain cardiovascular health. As per an Iranian study, celery leaf extract was found to improve numerous cardiovascular parameters like cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL (bad cholesterol) (26).
11. Can Fight Infections
According to a test tube study conducted in 2012, celery was found to treat, and even prevent, fungal infections. In the study, celery oil was tested against various types of infectious fungi. Results supported the anti-fungal properties of the oil. In another test tube study, celery had inhibited various types of bacteria (including E. coli that causes urinary tract and intestinal infections).
Another study supported the antibacterial effects of celery seed against H. pylori (27).
12. Strengthens The Immune System
Celery is replete with vitamin C, which is known to strengthen the immune system. And since celery is also rich in antioxidants, the vitamin is further stimulated and becomes more efficient.
It has been found that numerous cells of the immune system depend on vitamin C for optimal functioning and disease prevention (28). Vitamin C supplementation has also been found to increase the concentration of immunoglobulins in the blood, which are key compounds of the immune system (29). Deficiency of vitamin C was found to alter immune responses in animals (30).
13. Calms The Nervous System
Celery contains special essential oils that can regulate the nervous system and induce a sense of calm. The high magnesium levels in celery can help one relax and get into restful sleep.
According to certain herbalists, celery renders a calming quality to nerves (31). It also is widely believed that Hippocrates, known as the father of medicine, mentioned that celery could calm nerves and should be used to treat nervous ailments (32).
Research has also suggested that chewing on celery can reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) levels (33). The chemical apigenin in celery can also induce calmness, and has a history of being used as an anxiety remedy.
14. Treats Kidney Stones
Celery essential oil contains luteolin and other essential compounds, and hence is widely used to treat kidney stones (34).
15. Maintains Healthy Joints
Celery can be used to treat joint pains and gout (35).
One major reason for joint pains is the build-up of uric acid, which can lead to intense pain. Celery, also being a diuretic, helps in the excretion of uric acid – thereby treating joint pains.
As per an Ireland study, celery seed oil is a good source of sedanolide, which can be used to treat inflammatory-related issues like gout and rheumatism (36).
16. Hydrates The Body
Celery is 95% water (37). That itself must show how hydrating it can be! Two to three celery sticks can replenish the levels of potassium, sodium, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, calcium, and zinc in the body (38).
Celery also contains silica, which has moisture and elasticity boosting properties (39).
17. Treats Heartburn
Celery is an alkaline food that neutralizes the acid traveling upwards through the esophagus. The high water content of the plant even neutralizes stomach acid and is often recommended for acid reflux and heartburn.
18. Good For The Eyes
19. Treats Cold And Flu, And Other Allergies
Apart from giving a boost to the body’s immune system, celery also helps maintain overall health. One celery stick a day can offer you numerous vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants – all of which can help keep allergies at bay.
Ayurvedic physicians frequently used celery for treating cold and flu, amongst other common ailments. And given its high vitamin C content, celery can help reduce the severity of these symptoms.
20. Promotes Neurogenesis And Prevents Memory Loss
A study conducted in 2010 stated the link between luteolin and lower rates of age-related memory loss (42). The reason being luteolin calms brain inflammation, which, according to experts, could be the primary reason for neurodegeneration (43).
Apigenin, the chemical in celery, is also believed to aid in neurogenesis (growth and development of nerve cells). Though this has been proved only in the case of mice, further studies are required to confirm similar findings in humans. One particular study proves the incredible abilities of apigenin – researchers had applied the chemical to human stem cells in a petri dish, and 25 days later the stem cells had transformed into neurons (44). This effect was absent without the application of apigenin.
21. Relieves Migraines
Tinctures of celery seeds can help relieve headaches. The vegetable can also help relieve the feeling of a sunken eyeball and headaches that are caused due to the lack of sleep.
Dehydration can aggravate migraines, and celery being high on water, can help relieve the condition (45). According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, magnesium can prevent migraines. The mineral can even reduce the duration of migraines. Celery seeds, being rich in magnesium, can be beneficial in this regard (46).
22. Improves Alkaline Balance
Celery is one of the most alkaline of foods, and hence, you can use it as a base in most juices and soups. If you are suffering from acidity and want to munch on something light, celery could be one good option.
23. Prevents Ulcers
Ulcers are usually caused by the bacteria H. pylori. Celery, being rich in flavonoids, inhibits the growth of H. pylori and helps treat ulcers (47). The flavonoids in celery can also help prevent damage to the lining of the stomach and esophagus.
24. Treats Constipation
Increasing fiber intake is one of the best ways to treat constipation. Celery being a rich source of fiber, treats constipation and eases bowel movements (48).
25. Relieves Menopause Symptoms
According to a study, hormone levels can be balanced with the help of plant oestrogents, also called phytoestrogens. Foods rich in phytoestrogens were found to have menopause-busting effects. Celery, being a good source of phytoestrogens, can relieve menopause symptoms (49). Other members of the cruciferous family, like celery, also offer an oestrogen-boost (50). However, be wary of overconsumption of phytoestrogens, as the effects in such cases are unclear.
Maintaining your hydration levels is one thing you must be serious about when you start having menopause symptoms. As the vegetable is mostly made of water, it can meet your hydration needs. You might also succumb to excess stress during menopause, which might increase your craving for salty and sweet foods. But snacking constantly or binging isn’t healthy, is it? It can also lead to an acid attack on your teeth. Celery could be one of the safe snacks to munch on in this aspect (51).
26. Eliminates Bad Breath
Celery is also often called as ‘detergent-food’. It helps kill the odor in your mouth, and even scrapes off the bacteria on your tongue as you chew it (52).
27. Has Anti-Aging Properties
Being rich in vitamins A and C (53), celery protects the skin from damage from free radicals.
The anti-aging properties of vitamin C are not unknown. In one South Korean study, vitamin C was found to show excellent anti-aging effects (54). Even vitamin A greatly contributes to skin health. As per a report published by the Oregon State University, our skin is responsive to retinoids (vitamin A and the other major compounds derived from it) (55).
28. Treats Acne And Pimples
Given the numerous vitamins and minerals celery contains, the vegetable is also dubbed as the ‘acne killer’. And it not just fights acne, but even the scars that could otherwise be left behind.
Celery even helps cleanse the skin and removes dirt, thereby keeping your skin clean and less prone to acne outbursts.
29. Can Be Used For Oily Skin
We don’t have to specifically mention how uncomfortable and embarrassing oily skin can be. Of course, you can’t keep visiting the washroom to wash your face every ten minutes, can you? But with celery at hand, you can chill.
Celery not only offers hydration to the skin but also clears off the excess oils (56). Using celery for oily skin is quite simple. You can just drink celery juice on a regular basis. Or, you can slice and boil a few celery sticks in water. Once the water cools down, refrigerate it. You can apply this preparation to your skin every night before going to bed.
30. Helps Treat Vitiligo
Vitiligo is a condition where the skin loses its pigment in certain areas, causing white patches. As per a Polish study, celery contains furanocoumarins, primary compounds that are used in the treatment of vitiligo (57).
Similar findings have been recorded in Atharva Veda, the sacred Indian book on Ayurvedic medicine (58). Celery, given its presence of furanocoumarins, has been used since ancient times by popular medicines to treat vitiligo. You can use celery for vitiligo the same way you use it for oily skin. But this remedy works best only if you take it along with your medication. Please consult your doctor for further advice.
You have seen the vast array of benefits celery offers. But all this wouldn’t mean much if you aren’t aware of how to buy and store celery – the right away.
How To Buy And Store Celery
Properly buying and storing a vegetable is as important as consuming the vegetable itself. Here, we look at certain tips that can help us enjoy celery to its best –
How To Buy
- You need to choose the celery that is crisp and easily snaps off when pulled apart. It should also be light and compact, and not have stalks splaying out.
- The leaves must be pale to bright green. They must not have brown or yellow patches.
- In order to check for any damage, separate the stalks and check for any black or brown discolorations.
- Also ensure the celery does not have a seed stem, as it indicates that it will have a bitter flavor. The seed stem resides in the place of the small tender stalks at the center of the celery.
How To Store
- You can store celery in water. A large glass bowl or a plastic sealed container would do. Ensure you use plastic wrap on the glass bowl to seal it. Gather a fresh supply of water. It should be clean. Pick the celery that has straight and rigid stalks. Remove the stalks and strip the leaves off. Cut the stalks in half and put them in the container or glass bowl. Add water till it fills the container. Make sure to seal the lid and keep it aside. Remember to change the water regularly or every alternate day.
- You can also wrap the celery tightly in an aluminum foil. Post which you can place the wrapped celery inside the refrigerator. You can reuse the same foil for several bunches of celery.
How To Include Celery In Your Diet
Following are a few celery recipes that can help you include the magic vegetable in your diet –
- Chopped celery head, 1
- Chopped large potato, 1
- Chopped medium onion, 1
- Unsalted butter stick, 1
- Salt, as required
- Low sodium chicken broth, 3 cups (avoid this if you are a vegetarian)
- Fresh dill, ¼ cup
- Heavy cream, ½ cup
- Celery leaves, as required
- Olive oil, as required
- Flaky sea salt
- Combine the celery head, potato, medium onion, and butter stick in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Use salt for seasoning.
- Stir cook for 8 to 10 minutes until the onion is tender.
- Add the 3 cups of low sodium chicken broth and simmer until the potatoes turn tender.
- Puree in a blender with ¼ cup of fresh dill and strain.
- Stir in ½ a cup of heavy cream.
- Serve the soup after topping it with celery leaves, olive oil, and flaky sea salt.
- Celery sticks, 2
- Apple, 1
- Ginger, ¼ inch (optional)
- Lime or lemon, ¼
- Thoroughly wash the celery sticks and apple in running water.
- Cut the celery sticks into long pieces. Cut the apple into slices.
- Excluding the lemon (or lime), process the remaining ingredients in a juicer.
- Collect the juice in a container. You can discard the pulp.
- Squeeze the lemon over the collected juice and stir properly.
- Transfer the juice into a tumbler and serve.
- Sliced celery, ¾ cup
- Dried sweet cherries, 1/3 cup
- Thawed and frozen green peas, 1/3 cup
- Freshly chopped parsley, 3 tablespoons
- Chopped and toasted pecans, 1 tablespoon
- Fat-free mayonnaise, 1 ½ tablespoons
- Plain low-fat yogurt, 1 ½ tablespoons
- Fresh lemon juice, 1 ½ teaspoons
- Salt, 1/8 teaspoon
- Ground black pepper, 1/8 teaspoon
- Take a medium bowl and combine the celery, cherries, peas, parsley, and pecans.
- Stir in mayonnaise, yogurt, and lemon juice.
- Season using salt and pepper.
- You can chill the salad and serve.
However healthy any food is, it carries certain limitations. The same goes for celery. Here we look at certain side effects of the vegetable you must be wary of.
Celery Side Effects
Celery is a common allergen and certain allergic reactions to it can be serious. In case you are allergic to mugwort or birch pollen, chances are you might react to celery as well. Symptoms can include swelling of the face, irritation and rashes, upset stomach, and dizziness. In extreme cases, the symptoms can include lightheadedness, a drop in blood pressure levels, and difficulty breathing.
2. Kidney problems
Being rich in water and a natural diuretic, it can cause issues in people with kidney problems. Excessive celery intake might put additional strain on the kidneys, and hence people suffering from any kind of kidney complications must monitor their celery intake.
3. Concerns regarding pregnant and breastfeeding women
Celery or celery seeds can induce bleeding and uterine contraction, and hence pregnant women must avoid large doses of the vegetable. It can also cause a miscarriage (59).
There is no sufficient information with respect to the usage of celery for breastfeeding women. Hence, it’s better to avoid use.
If you believe water is the basic requirement for optimal health (which it sure is), then celery is the veggie for you. You have seen the benefits. You have seen how to use it. And you also have seen what side effects it may cause.
Now, you got to do something else.
Grab a bunch of celery and have it! Because the benefits are ammaazzzingg!
Let us know how this post has helped you. Do comment in the box below.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
What is the head of celery?
Celery grows in a collective unit ribs which grow together. These ribs join at a common base, which is referred to as the head of celery.
Can you eat the leaves of celery?
Yes. Very much. Though usually thown away, these leaves are delicious and nutritious. You can use them the way you would use any herb – mince them, chop them, or leave them as they are. You can add them to stocks, soups, sauces, and stir-fries.
How do you freeze celery?
- Pull the stalks of the celery apart and wash them under running water.
- Trim and cut the stalks till they are 1-inch long.
- Immerse them in a pot of boiling water for about 3 minutes to blanch them.
- After which you must remove the celery, drain, and quickly immerse in ice cold water.
- Allow it to cool for 5 minutes and then drain it.
- Pack the celery in a Ziploc bag (with as little air as possible) and pop it into the freezer.
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